Ayurveda gives a lot of importance to preventive and predictive medicine through suitably customized diet and lifestyle regimen, detoxification and palliative therapeutic procedures.
Panchakarma is one of Ayurveda’s key detoxification treatment which involves Panch or five therapies namely Vamana (medically-assisted vomiting), Virechana (medically-assisted purgation) , Nasya (instillation of medicated nasal drops), Basti (medically-assisted Enema) and Rakta moskshana (blood-letting, offered only at some centersand add two types of Enema- one with medicated ghee/oil or decoction). These five therapies help eliminate toxins from the body while balancing the doshas in our body.
A Panchakarma procedure is typically a 28-day program, though a number of wellness centers offer them for 10, 14, 21-day (or more as recommended by the Physician) packages. Ayurveda advises undergoing Panchakarma to cleanse the body, improve its metabolic processes and adaptive capability to the demands of age, season, profession etc .
The Panchakarma treatment begins with Purvakarma or pre-purification where therapists prepare the body, in prescribed methods, to encourage it to let go of the toxins. The two procedures used are ‘Snehana’ and ‘Swedana’. Snehana is done using medicated fatty compound-based applications in various forms including massage that assist the medicines to permeate the skin. Snehana is given orally daily for three to seven days, as required in the form of medicated ghee or oil. Swedana is sudation or induced- sweating with steam emerging from herbal decoctions, administered after the Snehana. Swedana liquefies the toxins and facilitates the movement of toxins into the gastro-intestinal tract.
Following this the Panchakarma procedure begins. The five basic cleansing methods used here are :
Vamana: medically-assisted vomiting therapeutic vomiting or emesis
Virechan: medically-assisted purgation
Basti: medically-assisted Enema with medicated ghee/oil or decoction enema
Nasya: instillation of medicated nasal drops
Rakta mokshana: blood-letting
Vamana is medically-assisted vomiting /emesis therapy which removes Kapha-dosha induced toxins collected in the body in the region below the neck, chest and stomach. This is given to people with high Kapha imbalance, certain types of skin disorders, respiratory disorders, in spring season and in ailments including Bronchial Asthma, Chronic Allergies, Hay Fever, Vitiligo, Psoriasis, Hyperacidity, Chronic Indigestion Nasal Congestion, Edema, Obesity, Psychological disorders, Skin disorders among others.
Virechana is medically-assisted purgation therapy which removes Pitta dosha induced toxins from the body that are accumulated in the liver and gallbladder, cleaning the gastro-intestinal tract.
Virechana offers relief from ailments like chronic fever, diabetes, asthma, skin disorders such as herpes, paraplegia, hemiplegia joint disorders, digestive disorders, constipation, hyperacidity, vitiligo, psoriasis, headaches, elephantiasis and gynecological disorders among others.
Basti is medically-assisted Enema done to cleanse the accumulated toxins from all the three doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha, through the colon route. Basti or Enema is also highly beneficial as a rejuvenating treatment. Medicated oil or ghee or herbal concoction is administered through the anal passage , targeting the colon route . This treatment may be provided for seven, 14 or 30 days, based on the medical condition of a person.
Basti offers relief from conditions like hemiplegia, paraplegia, colitis, convalescence, cervical spondylosis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, digestive disorders, backache and sciatica, hepatomegaly and splenomegaly, obesity, piles and infertility among others.
Nasya is the instillation of medicated nasal drops, done in various forms to cleanse accumulated Kapha dosha induced toxins from the head and neck region. Based on the medical condition of the person it may be given up to 30 days. Nasya also offers relief from Trigeminal Neuralgia, Bel’s Palsy, improves memory and eye sight, insomnia, elimination of excess mucus, hyper pigmentation in the face, pre-mature graying of hair, clarity of voice, headaches of various origins, Hemiplegia, loss of smell and taste, frozen shoulder, migraine, stiffness of the neck, nasal allergies, nasal polyp, neurological dysfunctions, Paraplegia and sinusitis.
Raktamokshana is a procedure to cleanse the blood and is advised only in extremely rare conditions. Toxins present in the gastro-intestinal tract are absorbed into the blood and circulated throughout the body. This condition is called toxemia, which is the basic cause of repeated infections, hypertension and certain other circulatory conditions. This leads to skin disorders such as urticaria, rashes, herpes, eczema, acne, leukoderma, chronic itching or hives where along with medication, elimination of the toxins and purification of the blood is necessary. Raktamoksha is also indicated for cases of enlarged liver, spleen and gout.
A Panchakarma session provides one with an opportunity to know and understand their body better, develop a discipline of mind-body-spirit and connect with oneself. A detoxifying diet and set lifestyle corrections are a crucial element in the whole Panchakarma process ensuring a safe and effective procedure journey. Panchakarma treatment proposes a mono-diet (one food diet) to accelerate the removal of toxins from the body and to expedite healing.
A few weeks before the start of the main therapy is the (cleansing stage where the patient is advised to avoid sweets, dairy products, processed foods and stimulants such as tea, coffee, aerated and alcoholic drinks while a a specific diet as suggested by the physician is started. A week before the treatment, an alkaline diet consisting predominantly of whole grains and vegetables are advised. This diet neutralizes the effects of acidity in the body and assists in proper cleansing of the toxins. Once the treatment begins, patients are usually offered a special diet of Khichdi (a rice and mung dal dish). The khichdi is a mono-diet has a detoxifying affect, is nutritious and easy to digest.
During the cleansing stage, a customized diet is set assessing several factors in the person like response to treatment, age, season, body type etc. Some might be given a cleansing herbal drink – consisting of water, cardamom, black pepper, fennel seeds, cumin and coriander powder.
In the rejuvenation stage, a mono diet of the preparation phase is again advised for specific number of days to let the body adjust to the solid diet, gradually and slowly, assisting the body to revive itself from the procedural tone to a cleansed condition and vigor.